Casey Bauman, Spring Football (copy)

Montana State quarterback Casey Bauman runs drills during spring, top, and fall practices.

Casey Bauman sat in Matt Miller’s office just to talk football.

The Montana State quarterback wanted to know precisely how defenses might defend the Bobcats. Bauman practiced calling plays in a huddle. Miller, MSU’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, felt Bauman gained such a deep knowledge of the playbook that he could run position meetings.

Bauman spent so much time asking Miller questions during the offseason that the coach became exhausted. Miller said Bauman’s mental growth in just one season was “crazy” to reflect on, which he said is a testament to his commitment to improvement.

That growth is a major reason Bauman was picked as MSU’s starting quarterback on Monday after MSU’s 10th fall camp practice. He beat out sophomore Tucker Rovig, who started two games last season and showed potential in his first season playing.

Bauman didn’t separate himself one way in particular. But considering Bauman’s rapid development and natural talent, MSU head coach Jeff Choate relied on a gut feeling in making his decision.

MSU Fall Football Practice (copy)

Montana State quarterback Casey Bauman runs a drill during practice on Friday at Dyche Fields

Bauman will make his first career start at Texas Tech on Aug. 31. Despite how close the competition was, Choate said, Bauman will have room for error and won’t be benched quickly if he makes mistakes.

Choate doesn’t care where the Bobcats start the season. He trusts Bauman to lead the offense because he’s proven to inspire confidence from the rest of the offense.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about Texas Tech at all,” Choate said. “It’s not about the 70,000 people that show up to the game. … It’s about Montana State. It’s about us doing our job, controlling what we can control and it’s about our quarterback taking the next step in his progression as our leader.”

Bauman also inspired belief in MSU’s coaches that his arm could make the offense dynamic. Choate compared Bauman to Joe Flacco, a Super Bowl MVP quarterback who finished his college career with FCS Delaware, because of his stature and strong arm.

Choate added Bauman also has underrated mobility that could be utilized in a QB run game as well.

“He’s certainly got the arm talent of an elite quarterback,” Choate said. “It doesn’t take someone who’s necessarily been around football their whole life to see a guy with zip on the ball. I just have not seen a lot of guys, really anywhere, that can throw the ball with the velocity that he does.

“He can make some throws we haven’t been able to make.”

Miller compared Bauman to Brock Osweiler, another NFL quarterback who’s from Kalispell, because of a shared natural ability and moxie.

“Casey’s still got a long ways to go in his development,” Miller said. “I’m not saying he’s got Brock Osweiler type of talent yet, but I think he’s got all the potential in the world if he keeps working like he’s working. Then good things will come his way.”

online - Casey Bauman

Montana State quarterback Casey Bauman runs a drill during practice on Aug. 2 at Dyche Field.

Choate wanted to name a starter after the first scrimmage. After watching film and discussing the decision with Miller, Bauman was designated as the team’s man behind center Sunday.

Choate stressed Bauman must improve his accuracy, but his arm strength makes him stand out.

“I think he’s done a really nice job,” Miller said, “from spring to summer to fall camp of just understanding schematically what we’re trying to get done and taking what the defense gives us, making good decisions with the ball in his hands and having that demand and command in the huddle where guys are going to follow him every time.”

Bauman’s stat line from last weekend’s scrimmage — 6 of 11 for 77 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions — illustrated a stronger showing than Rovig. And Choate said the scrimmage would weigh fairly heavily into his decision.

“Obviously you’ve got to perform,” Bauman said last week of the scrimmage. “They want to put you to the test. There’s a little bit more to it than that, but at the end of the day, we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing. And that’s all it’s come down to.”

The 6-foot-7, 231-pound redshirt freshman has limited experience, having played in one game last season and completed his only pass against Cal Poly. However, Bauman showed natural ability during fall camp last season while he was competing to be MSU’s starter. A season later, he displayed command of the offense during fall camp.

Bauman is tasked with following Troy Andersen, who was a unanimous all-Big Sky and all-American at quarterback last season before he moved back to his natural position at strong-side linebacker.

But Bauman, who was Andersen’s backup after Rovig’s season ended with a broken foot, used his redshirt season to learn from Andersen and Miller.

“I just tried to pick up on anything they had and just learn the offense,” Bauman said last week. “I think the game’s going to slow down a little bit for me. Obviously I know all of our stuff and all of our schemes, but I think I’ve made improvements since last year.”

MSU Fall Football Practice (copy)

Montana State quarterback Casey Bauman runs a drill during practice Aug. 2 at Dyche Fields.

Picking a starter this early in fall camp, Choate said, allowed the coaching staff to establish the depth chart so the rest of the team can develop more chemistry with the starter. Bauman can also take snaps with the first-team offense and gain more familiarity with his arsenal of receivers and running backs.

That way Bauman will continue to progress.

“Was it an easy decision? No,” Choate said. “But do I think it was the right decision at this time? Given the fact we have a more veteran team and need to prepare ourselves to go play at Texas Tech, I think the timing is right.”

Colton Pool can be reached at cpool@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.